The Corner

Politics & Policy

Zombie Reagan for Congress!

I enjoyed Peter Spiliakos’s piece on the perils of “Zombie Reaganism,” but I would caution him against judging the appeal of tax cuts and the like by looking primarily at presidential-election results. Spiliakos writes:

For the average American, Reaganism largely solved this problem at the federal level by indexing income-tax rates to inflation and by multiple rounds of tax cuts. During and shortly after this, Republican presidents won three straight presidential elections with wide pluralities of the popular vote (they have done so once — narrowly — in the last 32 years). Thus, tax cuts became part of the mythology of this supposedly golden age of Republican politics: They enabled the GOP to win elections and they supercharged the economy.

This is true. But it’s also true that two years after the GOP’s series of presidential blowouts came to an end, Republicans swept Congress and have controlled it for most of the time since. Since 1994, the GOP has won majorities in the House of Representatives in ten of the 13 elections, and majorities in the Senate in eight of the 13 (with a tie in 2000). If the GOP has been in thrall to the Reagan agenda since 1980, it has not performed too badly on that platform in the years since Reagan left office — especially when one considers that it is Congress, and not the executive branch, that is in charge of the purse strings.

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